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How to Write a Follow-Up Email To Get the Best Results22 minutes read

Deciding how to write a follow-up email can be awkward and confusing for salespeople. Oftentimes, you’re second-guessing on your lead’s buying intent after no response, making the engagement unpredictable.

But that isn’t a good enough reason to avoid following up. Research says 50% of closures come in after the fifth touch. As per the same study, 93% of closed leads took 6 attempts to connect.

So if you’re someone who wants to learn how to write a follow-up email after no response from your leads, this guide is for you.

With this guide you’ll learn how to write a follow-up email, ensuring quicker closes and responses. As a bonus, you’ll also get to learn how to automate your monotonous and tedious follow-up process. Also, at the end of the blog, we have a section with break downs of follow-up emails from some of the best-known tech companies.

So let’s get started.

How To Write Follow-up Emails

You need to first figure out the purpose behind your email. We’ll discuss that in detail below, in the form of things your follow-up email needs to accomplish.

1. Communicate Your Goal and Be Concise

Before you get to write your follow-up email, decide what you’re looking to accomplish with this specific email. You need the lead to buy from you — but that’s probably not going to happen so early. Ask yourself what’s the next step in the lead nurturing process, that will help your lead move further into the sales funnel.

This might be to book a Proof of Concept, Product Demo, get feedback and discuss the next steps after a demo, getting introduced to the decision-maker, and so on. Whatever it is, mention it in the email so they know what you’re looking for and respond accordingly. 

Your leads might be short on time so beating around the bush might not really help anyone. The email has to focus on getting to this goal (or actionable) while being short and simple to follow. How do you write a follow-up email that’s concise? Here is the key — cut your sentences short, remove all extra bloat (adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, etc.).

2. Provide Context and Clear Obstacles

Since you didn’t get a response to your last engagement, it is important that you help your lead catch up on what’s been happening. If you’re trying to figure out how to send a follow-up email after no response, write a line on where the conversation left off last time, and where it’s leading to. This part can be framed before or after the actionable we mentioned in the last point, based on how you see fit. 

Besides that, ask and offer to solve any obstacles your lead might be facing in moving forward towards closing. To make them open up to you better (by building trust and confidence), practice responding to your emails as quickly as possible. If there are obvious clarifications you sense you can help with, pre-empt those in this part of the email. 

3. Create More Value

One of the reasons for the lack of responses could be that the lead doesn’t see enough value in your product/service. If you feel this is true for whatever reason, try to solve it best as per your capacity. Spark a conversation around this by asking for their opinion on pricing structures, features, and how they see it fit for them. This part of the email is more of an add-on, it is something you should not talk about unless you really need to.

Apart from pricing, you can enable your lead to sell on your behalf within their organization. Share product content like pitch decks and case studies that your lead can then circulate and share internally.

Follow-up after a meeting, demo, or conference asking for feedback and next steps. Ask them if they would like an introduction to existing customers for references and social proof. Incentivizing your lead (providing more discounts, crediting the sale and its impact, etc) to introduce you to a decision-maker will also work in your favor. 

4. Use an Appropriate Subject Line

An important aspect of learning how to write a follow-up email has a lot to do with its subject line. The subject line will be a deciding factor against your email open and reply rates. A catchy and relevant subject will ensure your email gets noticed among the sea of emails in your lead’s inbox. Craft your subject line to highlight the most important part of your email content. It could relate to a CTA, like “Awaiting Your Nod” or anything else that’s already part of the email.  

Optimize the length of your subject line, keep it short, and between 3-6 words, as it’s readable on mobile screens. Don’t include spam triggering keywords which could lead to your email being filtered out from your lead’s primary inbox. Use tools like subjectline.com to test your subject for its tone, length, and effectiveness.

How To Send Follow-up Emails

We’ve went through the specifics on how to write a follow-up email. But do you know how to send a follow-up email? 

If you have been sending follow-up emails individually, we want to introduce you to an easier and faster way to send out your follow-up emails that get responses. 

Introduction To Automated Follow-ups

Until a couple of years ago, salespeople spent a good chunk of their time tracking and scheduling follow-ups manually. Not only was it time-consuming, but the possibilities of missing some of these follow-ups and losing out on opportunities also rose. 

It is now possible to automate your follow-up emails. We’ll explore how to send a follow-up email after no response, or no opens, automatically.

We’ll go through steps to automate and schedule your follow-ups for up to 9 touches using SalesHandy.

saleshandy email follow up sequence

Steps to set up automated email follow-ups

1. Sign up on SalesHandy

  • You can sign up on SalesHandy using your Gmail/G Suite or Microsoft account you want to use to send your follow-up emails. It is completely free to sign up and use it for the first 14 days.
signup with saleshandy
  • Once you’re signed in, you will be directed to your account dashboard. 
SalesHandy email outreach tool dashboard

2. Create a New Campaign

  • Once you can access your dashboard, navigate to the ‘Email Campaign’ menu on the far left of your screen. Once your Email Campaign page has loaded, click on the ‘New Campaign’ button. 
Create an email campaign with follow up using saleshandy
  • This will take you to your campaign editor where you will be drafting your follow-up sequences.
import contact for cold email campaign
  • Set the name of your campaign and proceed to upload a CSV file that contains your recipient’s email, Name, and Personalization (Mail Merge) fields.
  • After uploading your CSV, you will see a preview of the data in your CSV. You can choose to validate the email addresses of your recipients using SalesHandy’s add-on email verification system. This helps you remove recipients from the list whose emails aren’t valid, helping avoid bounces in your campaign.
select account for cold email campaign
  • The email address you used to sign up will show as the sending email address by default. You can also connect multiple email addresses if you wish to send from another email address. All of your connected email addresses are shown below the “From Email” section, and you can choose the email you wish to send this campaign from.
  • You can also switch between sending the entire campaign as part of the same thread. This means emails from Stage 2 onwards will automatically prefix “Re:” before your Stage 1 subject and make those emails part of the same thread in your recipients’ inbox. If switched off, your follow-up emails will be sent separately with unique subject lines, which you can edit along with the rest of the email content.

3. Drafting Stage 1 Email

  • Scrolling further, you will see an editor for Stage 1 email, where you can proceed to draft the content of the email in the editor. Stage 1 will be the 1st email to go out in your campaign, hence it is supposed to be the first touch and needs to be drafted accordingly.  
send email campaigns with saleshandy
  • It is recommended to properly personalize your email for optimum deliverability and conversions. Mail Merge tags help you personalize your emails efficiently. They are automatically picked from your CSV file and listed out next to your email editor.
  • To place a merge tag at a certain place within your email content, bring the cursor over to this position and click on the Merge tag you wish to insert. It will appear as seen in the screenshot above. Merge tags can be placed in both the email body and subject line.

4. Draft Follow-Up Stages

  • Once you have drafted your Stage 1 email, scroll further down to find a + button that says Add follow-up stage.
how to add a follow up email stage
  • Draft an appropriate follow-up to your Stage 1 email using Merge tags and make use of the guide in the first part of this article. Note that you’ll be able to edit the subject line only if you have turned “Send follow-up email in the same thread” off since the subject of every email will be the same as the Stage 1 email otherwise.
how to send a follow up email
  • Once you are done drafting Stage 2 follow-up email, scroll down to find the scheduling options for that email (refer bottom part of the above screenshot). You can choose for Stage 2 email to go out based on your recipient’s activity (if they have opened and not responded, or not opened at all) after a certain time interval. 
  • This means the stage 2 email will be sent if either the recipient hasn’t opened or replied to your Stage 1 email, for ‘X’ days. Regardless option will send out the email to everyone regardless of their engagement with your Stage 1 email. 
  • You can also set a specific time at which your follow-up email should go, based on your recipient’s timezone. If your previous stage email is sent on Monday, and you want to automatically send a follow-up on Thursday 10.45 am in their timezone if they haven’t responded, you can set the stage to go after 3 days (given stage 1 goes out on Monday), at 10:45 AM, and set the condition to “Not replied
  • Once you have drafted Stage 2, it’s time to add a second follow-up email after no response. Click on the ‘Add followup stage’ button below the editor and you will see Stage 3 email editor added to your Campaign editor. Similarly, you can set up automated follow-up campaigns with up to 10 stages in total, i.e. 9 follow-ups. 
how to send a follow up email after no response

5. Test Each Stage Emails 

  • Make sure to test each email stage before you schedule the campaign. Below every stage’s email editor, you will find a text box to enter an email address you want to send a test email to. A test email will be sent with Merge fields filled and you can check how your email looks on desktop and mobile screens of your inbox.

6. Set Intervals & Schedule

  • Once you have drafted and tested all your follow-up email stages, double-check the trigger conditions for each follow-up stage. Scroll below the last stage of your campaign, and you will find ‘Preference’ section meant to schedule and start sending emails in the campaign.
when to send a follow up email using saleshandy
  • Set the date, time, and timezone for your emails to start going out. You can choose time zones based on where your recipients live and have emails go out as per their timezone. This is the time your Stage 1 email will go out and the following stages will be sent as per the set intervals and engagement triggers. 
  • You can also set the intervals between consecutive emails – and this is set to  60 – 90 seconds by default, which optimizes for both speed and deliverability. 
  • Once you have confirmed your settings, click on the ‘Schedule campaign’ button. Emails will automatically start going out as per your settings. Once someone replies to these follow-up emails, it will show up directly in your inbox and you can take the conversation further from your mailbox.

You can also receive instant push notifications on your computer whenever a recipient opens your email.

How To Optimize Your Follow-ups For Responses

Having covered how to write a follow-up email and how to send a follow-up email, let’s explore some best practices that will help you further improve response rates of your follow-up emails.

1. Time Your Follow-ups

It’s very crucial to know when to send a follow-up email. Timing is another deciding factor impacting the success of your email campaign. 

If your lead resides in a different time zone, schedule your follow-ups to go out in the recipient’s time zone. This will make sure your emails are delivered during their active hours and have the best chances of being opened and responded to. Sending emails too early/late will also bury your emails among other emails that are being delivered during that time and are unread. 

If you’ve noticed that your recipient typically opens/responds during a certain time of the day, schedule your follow-ups to match up to that. You are likely to miss the opportunity to send follow-ups in this fashion if you were to do it manually. Make sure you stick to an automated solution that helps you keep up with your recipient’s timezone.

2. Follow-Up Persistently

As mentioned in the earlier part of the article, the majority of the closures come in only after having followed up with leads quite a bit. 

We conducted research on open and response rates of follow-up campaigns across 2,162,106 emails sent using SalesHandy. 

Salespeople who sent 9 follow-ups saw an aggregate 54% increase in open rates and a 43% increase in response rates.

follow up email statistics- SalesHandy

Responses and engagement coming from increased follow-ups directly result in more closures. 

This doesn’t mean you should overdo it. It won’t make sense to follow-up with leads who have refused to move forward or straight up said no. Follow-ups are meant to enable gaining meaningful engagement and help your leads solve their problems. They won’t help you close a lead that doesn’t qualify or has dropped off. Follow email delivery best practices and focus email content on helping your leads succeed, while being persistent at it. 

3. Optimize Intervals Between Follow-ups

If you’re sending out a lot of follow-ups, make sure you time them right. Sending regular follow-ups at shorter intervals might annoy your leads as it doesn’t give them enough time to respond to the last email. Give your leads time between each follow-up, just enough where you feel they have clearly missed responding to you and still have the intent to buy. 

The chart below shows the aggregate schedule of follow-up emails sent out by SalesHandy users. It will give you a better idea of when to send a follow-up email.

SalesHandy's follow up sequence research

4. Follow-Up Across Channels

If your leads are not responding on email, try and follow-up with them on other online channels where they might be active

Linkedin

Send your lead a connection request on LinkedIn with a message mentioning your engagement over emails. If you have InMail credits, you can also directly message them by sharing and asking for feedback on a market/company event, or any relevant content on LinkedIn for that matter. 

Twitter

If your lead is active on Twitter, you can check if they have open DMs and interact with them there. You can also check their likes and retweets, if something interesting stands out, it can make for interesting conversation topics. Like and comment on tweets you find relevant and incorporate those tweets as topics in your follow-up emails.  

Blog

It’s not very common for a lead you have come across to also have a blog. But platforms like Medium and substack have made it easier than ever for anyone to publish content online. If your lead has published content – make sure they know you read and appreciated it. It’s likely they’re trying to grow their audience, so feedback on published content matters a lot to them. Comments and remarks on blogs and articles written by them will help you build great rapport and also supplement your follow-up efforts.

5. Use Conversation Starters

How do you follow-up an email with no response? 

Use conversation starters. Set up alerts on Google to give you updates on your lead’s organization and industry. Once a relevant event/article shows up, you can use it as a bridge to start talking to them. Try to tie in the impact of an event to the lead’s success, and see if your product or it’s use case fits in somewhere. These kinds of conversations communicate the fact that you pay attention to their needs, which in turn helps build trust and credibility.

6. Personalize Offers and Discounts

If you have an idea about your leads’ ability to pay with respect to their needs, you can customize the product and pricing to better suit them. If they have an intent to buy and haven’t closed yet, it might be due to certain objections that you could clear using these offers. This keeps you from dragging the engagement any further than needed and brings quicker closes.

7. Gracefully Embracing Evident Drop-offs

Several leads might politely (or otherwise) decide to respond to your email only to stop you from sending more emails. Similarly, you might have leads who’ve been with you the entire campaign only to have left your emails read. Both these categories of leads should have the same dignity and respect of a paying customer. This is to make sure these leads are still comfortable coming back to you in case they need you in the future.

Some of them might also end up referring other leads to you, making them “valuable”. Make it easier for them to come back to you to buy from you, or recommend others leads to you. This will be very much dependent on your last interaction with them.

Follow-up Emails From Top Companies  

We’ve covered everything to help you write great follow-up emails. But there’s a lot to learn from the best companies in the business who’ve put these strategies into practice. We’re picking up and breaking down follow-up templates from these companies.

B2B follow-up email examples

Zoom’s Follow-up email

the email follow up template of Zoom

Zoom has this really short email that makes for a great example of the principles we’ve shared. They’ve made it part of the first email thread which makes it easier to refer to the entire chain of emails. They’re also referring to the last email in the email content, and ask a simple question as the actionable.

The most noticeable aspect of this email is the length – it is super short and makes it easy for the recipient to go through. For follow-up emails like these, short length plays a really important role in response rates and conversion.

Pandadoc Follow-up email

Pandadoc Follow-up email

PandaDoc has written this email as the first, or second follow-up email after no response. They have kept it only to divert the lead’s attention to the previous emails. This has been done to bring the conversation back in the active stage. Also, the only actionable is to respond. These emails aren’t part of a thread, which would have made it easier for the lead to refer to the last email the sender is talking about.

G2Crowd’s follow-up email

G2Crowd’s follow-up email

G2 is trying to get a lead to directly meet at an event in the same city. They’ve made sure to communicate the fact that they know about the lead’s office being in the city. 

The focus here is also on connecting with someone with more authority than the email sender, which could be of interest to the lead. Being able to meet authoritative members definitely has some lure. It means the lead might get better deals and connect with other peers with higher authority. This meeting in turn will give the sender an opportunity to pitch products and services.

Asana’s follow-up email

Asana’s follow-up email

Asana’s follow-up email focuses on grabbing the lead’s attention to the subject line. Following that, once the lead opens the email, he sees social proof that highlights the product’s value and its use case. The email is also short for the amount of information it delivers.  

Saastr’s follow-up email

Saastr’s follow-up email

This follow-up email from Saastr is for a Startup founder who might be looking to network with other founders and C-level executives. They’ve mentioned the scale of the event(1000+ VCs) along with the quality of the crowd (80% are Directors and above) to make it look attractive. It’s also very well-formatted to make it easy on the recipients’ eyes and make it seem shorter than it actually is.

These emails are edited versions sourced from Good Sales Emails and are pictured here in SalesHandy’s email editor.

Conclusion

Most of what you are supposed to do with follow-ups has quite a few things in common with email deliverability best practices. Apart from that, everything else mostly has to do with being able to get your lead’s attention, respecting their time, and enabling yourself in helping them succeed. 

We hope our strategies, best practices, and breakdowns helped you learn how to write a follow-up email. 

Do you know of any other practices or strategies that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know about them in the comments. 

The article was updated on July 1, 2020

By Dhruv Patel

A marketer, people person, SaaS enthusiast, hustler & growth hacker. Always smiling & ready for help. Co-founder at @SalesHandy

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